Tips from the Self-Published Community

Hello, everyone!

I had planned to do something different today- namely, explain why By the Bones is unavailable and what prompted me to leave my publisher. 

However, when writing it out, I realized that this experience might not be the norm for this publisher, and I didn’t want to start something I couldn’t finish. 

Instead, let’s talk about what I learned after posting my story for the self-published community on Reddit.

Tip 1: Traditional publishers will work FOR (and PAY) the author. 

I’m ashamed to say that I knew this before I signed the contract, but I still ended up paying almost $1200 to get By the Bones edited, formatted, and published. 

And yes, there will always be costs involved when publishing a book. However, traditional publishers will often eat the cost or point you in an affordable direction- not mark it up as part of the publication package. 

Tip 2: Vanity presses are BIG no-no’s.

When the trouble with my publisher started, I went to Reddit and gave the self-published community my story and asked for advice. Imagine my surprise when EVERY reply told me that I signed with a vanity press.

One comment said:

“With traditional publishers – who invest the full cost of getting a book from typescript to published book – the royalty is typically 10%. If you paid them to set up the book – what used to be called vanity publishing – frankly, don’t expect to receive any payment. Sorry to have bad news.”

(shout-out to Digital_Sailboat for their insight!)

I’m new to the publishing world, but I knew they were probably right. As excited as I was to work with a “real” publisher, I didn’t see the line of red flags waving in my face. 

C’est la vie.

Tip 3: Get EVERYTHING in writing and thoroughly review your contract before signing. 

It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t bother to read the contracts. Furthermore, they tend to accept verbal or implied offers without getting something to back it up. 

Thankfully, I’m a big fan of getting everything in writing, and I had read my contract (as had my husband). I knew it contained a termination clause that worked in my favor, so I was able to cut my losses. 

Tip 4: Research the company!

If I had taken a little more time and dug a little deeper into my publisher, I would have figured out that it wasn’t the place for me. Still, I didn’t see the forest through the trees, and I deeply regret wasting all this time and money on something that didn’t work.

When signing with a new publisher, ALWAYS research the company and make sure their goals align with your own- something I plan to do from now on.

Tip 5: LEARN HOW TO MARKET A BOOK!

Don’t worry- I’m not yelling at you. Marketing is my biggest weakness, which is somewhat ironic since I work as a copywriter for my day job. That being said, I’m always hoping to find new ways to get my book out into the world. 

If this experience has taught me anything, it’s that I am my book’s biggest advocate. No matter how much the publisher says they’ll help me market my work, it’s ultimately up to me. 

It’s time I learn how to market with a purpose!

These are some of the more invaluable tips I’ve learned while dealing with my publisher, and I’m forever thankful to the community for their advice! I will remember these tips next time I try to publish anything. 

Do you have any tips to add? Or know how to best market a book? Let me know in the comments! 

OH! Don’t worry about By the Bones. It’ll be available for purchase again soon! 

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